Home > A Wicked Kind of Husband(6)

A Wicked Kind of Husband(6)
Author: Mia Vincy

He swung back around and glared at the duke, who grinned amiably. A horrid suspicion began to dawn, what with the duke’s sly amusement, and Arabella’s sharp-fingered grip, and Miss Seaton’s wide eyes, and that strange fizzing sensation under Cassandra’s skin.

No, it was not possible.

“You two make an adorable couple,” the duke said.

The man snorted. “Spare me your matchmaking. I’m already married.”

“As am I,” Cassandra said automatically, her head beginning to float away, her eyes fixed on His Grace’s cravat pin so she wouldn’t have to look at the man. The dark, abrupt, ill-mannered man.

No. No. No.

“I realize you are both married.” The duke looked from one to the other. “But do you realize you are married to each other?”


Cassandra closed her eyes. The clamor of the crowd withdrew to a great distance. Somewhere, someone played a French horn. It was too hot in here. Her gown was too small. But she was not inside, and she could not shut out the world, or the sunlight on her eyelids, or the man vibrating beside her.

Her husband.

She took a deep breath and opened her eyes, and found him studying her with a frown.

So. This was her husband. Mr. Joshua DeWitt. Of course it was. In hindsight, it was obvious, although she never imagined he would be in London, and he had been clean-shaven at their wedding, and hatless, and if he had worn that dreadful earring then, she had not looked at him long enough to notice. But even if she had forgotten his strong, bold features, she ought not have forgotten his manner, as dynamic as if lightning bounced around inside him.

Both having conducted their inspections, their eyes met briefly with a jolt of that lightning, and then he looked heavenward with a heavy sigh.

Cassandra became aware again of their audience, which had swelled markedly: Passersby were clearly fascinated by a group that included a scandalous duke, an intimidating marchioness, and a married couple who had never been seen together—and who had not even recognized each other.

Her quota of gossip may have doubled—but not in a way that she wanted.

She summoned up an amiable smile. “Of course we realize it, Your Grace,” she said. “One cannot be married for two years without being aware of it.” She flicked a pointed glance somewhere near her husband’s profile and leaned in confidentially. “Especially to a man such as this. One does tend to notice him.”

The duke looked back and forth between them. “You did not even acknowledge each other,” he pointed out.

Cassandra slipped her fingers into the crook of her husband’s elbow. He jerked, as if bitten, but she held on and he settled. She risked a glance at him: He was frowning at her hand on his sleeve as though it were some odd creature. She ignored him. Ignored the feel of his body beside hers. All that lightning. Oh dear, this man had bedded her. Briefly and uncomfortably, but his body and hers had…Oh dear. How did couples face each other over the breakfast table?

“We have already seen each other today,” Cassandra explained, lying with shocking ease. “We do not need to greet each other afresh every time. That, Your Grace, would be inefficient and we’re all aware of Mr. DeWitt’s love of efficiency.”

She gave his arm a little pat, smiled hard, and waited, breath held, for him to cooperate.

Then, to her relief, he patted her hand in turn.

“Well said, Mrs. DeWitt.” He punctuated his words with jabs of the roll of papers in his free hand. “I know who she is, she knows who I am, and we hardly need to remind each other of that at every point during the day.”

“You see, we are completely in tune with each other,” Cassandra lied. “The less time we waste on redundant greetings, the more time we have to argue about manners. My husband’s lack of them, particularly.”

“I wish you luck, Mrs. DeWitt,” the duke said wryly.

Cassandra glanced at Arabella, whose face was alive with repressed laughter. Arabella made a little moue with her mouth—“I did try to warn you,” she might have been saying.

“This is all very charming,” Mr. DeWitt said briskly. “But my, ah, wife, ha ha, and I need a private chat. Say your farewells, my dear. She will return to Warwickshire tomorrow.”

But before she could say those farewells—or anything more at all—he was moving away, sweeping her along with him in a current that she could not resist.



Chapter 3



Joshua tried to reconcile this bright, amiable-looking woman with Lord Charles Lightwell’s daughter, the plain, subdued girl he had married two years earlier. He could see something of her father in her, not necessarily in her features but in her air of open warmth, the sense that she welcomed everyone. That made her appealing, beyond her looks, which were pleasant if not beautiful.

Her hair was brown and her eyes were green, unless they were brown too; he couldn’t tell and didn’t much care either way. She had a stupid parasol and a stupider bonnet, but her green outfit at least was clever: Its bodice was cut in a way that showed she had a superb bosom, but not in such a way that anyone could accuse her of drawing attention to said bosom.

Brown hair—Amiable smile—Absurd emphasis on manners—Wife—Not where she was meant to be: That was all he knew about her, and all he needed to know.

To her credit, she came along with him easily enough, her hand tucked into his elbow as though they were fully civilized people. Good: The sooner they got home, the sooner he could send her back to Warwickshire where she belonged.

“Das!” Joshua twisted to find the secretary sauntering a few yards behind them. At least someone was where he was meant to be. “Get a hackney.”

“Will do.”

His wife turned too. “Is he—”

“Don’t ask. I’m tired of people asking.” Joshua kept them moving toward Hyde Park Corner. “He’s Bengali. He knew Bram somehow and wanted to come over here for some reason.”

“I was going to ask…Oh, never mind. Mr. Das.” She released Joshua’s arm and, to be particularly annoying, walked back to the secretary. Das stopped too, still afflicted by those excellent manners that Joshua had failed to cure him of. “In the absence of a proper introduction, may I say that I’m pleased to meet you,” she said.

Das bowed. “The pleasure is all mine, Mrs. DeWitt.”

“I assume you are the Mr. Das about whom Mr. Newell has spoken so highly?”

“Mr. Newell is too generous.”

“What are you my husband’s secretary for?”

“Oh for crying out loud! Enough chitchat.” Joshua strode back to them. “He’s Secretary For Doing Whatever The Blazes I Tell Him. And I told you to get me a hackney. Now. Go. Go!”

He waved in the direction of the gate and went to grip his wife’s upper arm. But she simply maneuvered her fingers back into the crook of his elbow and, when he tried to pull away, kept her feet planted firmly under the devious cover of her skirts. He couldn’t march off now without yanking her along behind him. Huh. Clever, that.

“That cannot be the official job title,” she said to Das, as calmly as if they weren’t playing tug-of-war with Joshua’s elbow.

“No, madam,” Das said with great dignity. “I believe the official title is ‘Secretary For Managing Whims and Getting Yelled At A Lot’.”

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